UK shares begin the last week's run into Christmas on a firm footing, with miners a particularly strong feature thanks to firmer metals prices. The FTSE 100 index rallies 55 points, or about 0.9%, to 6,108, although gains for midcaps and smaller companies are less eye-catching. Wall Street fell overnight Friday while Asia remains mixed this morning, with Europe's main markets also mildly firmer.
Oil firm BG (BG.) is up 1% to 917p on news it and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) will today seek High Court approval to hold shareholder meetings over their mega merger. The move follows satisfaction of the final pre-condition to the recommended combination and with the unanimous approval of both boards.
Broadcaster ITV (ITV) is up 3.5% to 272.9p on speculation linking US peer Comcast (CMCSA:NDQ) with an £11 billion bid.
Among the bigger movers, Weatherly International (WTI:AIM) jumps 38% to 0.45p as it reaches an amended agreement with Orion Mine Finance (Master) Fund, formalising the deferral in commencing repayments of the Tranche B facility and providing a further Tranche D facility of $4 million.
Oil explorer peer 88 Energy (88E:AIM) plunges 27% to 0.37p as it reveals that drilling at Icewine #1 is at 11,180 feet and approaching total depth. A core was successfully acquired in the HRZ interval from 11,075-11,165 feet with a 96% recovery factor.
Mining minnow ECR Minerals (ECR:AIM) crashes 22% to 0.02p despite saying the Canadian NI43-101 technical report for its Danglay gold project in the Philippines supports an earlier disclosure of an inferred mineral resource estimate for oxide gold mineralisation.
Non-life insurer Gable (GAH:AIM) dives 20.5% to 15.5p on issuing almost £4 million of loan notes on a 7.5% coupon to meet regulatory requirements. The group will also hold £15 million of its premium in reserve, a plan that could reduce profit by £2 million in 2016.
Shares in interactive TV gaming company Netplay TV (NPT:AIM) have been suspended at 7.4p on news it is considering a reverse takeover of Sportech's (SPO) football pools business. The shares have fallen by 18% in the last six months.
Flexible film specialist British Polythene Industries (BPI) slips 2% to 685p after saying raw material costs increased in November and December and are forecast to rise further at the start of 2016. It says the business is on course to meet its expectations for the year ending 31 December 2015.
Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casino-owner Rank (RNK) edges down 1.8% to 279.5p on news its rival Gala Bingo has been bought by private equity firm Caledonia Investments. The business was owned by Gala Coral, which is merging with bookmaker Ladbrokes (LAD).
Cathedral City cheese maker Dairy Crest (DCG) rises 2.25p to 653.25p on news it has taken full ownership of its Galacto-Oligosaccharide (GOS) business. GOS is a prebiotic added to infant formula to better match human milk composition and Dairy Crest has acquired the outstanding half held by Fayrefield Foods for £6 million.
Bombed-out Chinese orange plantations play Asian Citrus (ACHL:AIM) is marked up 0.5p to 6p, with bolder bargain hunters buying in despite Friday's disappointing winter crop report, the latest in a string of profit warnings from the weather-exposed small cap.